I don’t know why exactly, but I have always been very interested in the technical rules of competitions, understanding them and, above all, interpreting them. In 1978, Fiat decided to support and increase the participation of the 147 in races and rallies. In that year, and since 1976, the Brazilian Automobile Federation (CBA) had decided to use international technical regulations, with my insistence, in the category of tourist cars. My view was that it was unacceptable to have football with Brazilian rules instead of the international rules directed by FIFA and its body, the International Board. It was supposed to be the same in motorsport. I was even responsible for translating, for the CBA, the entire Annex J, the part of the International Sporting Regulations that deals with cars. The translation of the oath was not necessary because in case of doubt the French text prevails, the law of the FIA.

This is how, from 1976 onwards, the Touring events were dominated by Annex J. Group 1, large series production cars, came into use, 5,000 units in 12 consecutive months. That was my third year on the team that represented Ford in the competition, Mercantil Finasa-Motorcraft, led by Luiz Antônio Greco. The Maverick no longer had a quadrijet carburetor and the wheels were plain steel. The Opal was also affected by the new international regulation, as the 250-S engine would only be launched that year in series production and was not yet comparable.

From 1976, Group 1 FIA. The wheels will return to original steel. Me and Edgard de Mello Filho (Opala) in the first leg of S. Me and Artur Bragantini won this 6 Hours of Interlagos on July 4, 1976 (Photo: author’s collection)

Fiat introduced a strong incentive program for its dealers to create racing teams in the 851 class at 1,300 cm³, which in practice meant making one at a time, as there were no 1300 Beetles to compete. I participated in the first Fiat 147 race through the Fiat PST dealership, in Rio de Janeiro, winning (opening image)

Group 1 technical regulations are very limited in terms of approved modifications, which forces mechanics and trainers to think about all the details in order to achieve maximum performance on the track in compliance with the regulations.

For example, everyone knows that the compression ratio is important for the power of any atmospherically controlled engine and in order to compete in Group 1 the ratio must be specified in homologous form, without tolerance. By control the diameter of the cylinders can be increased up to 0.5 mm compared to the original diameter. Pay attention to the rules. I noticed that with this large diameter the level of compression goes beyond the limit of the homologation form. There I saw the inconsistency of the rules of Group 1, because if in the technical inspection of my car after the race the technical commissioner had measured the diameter of the cylinders and the volume of the combustion chamber, he would have considered the engine outside the rules.

In the case of the Fiat 147 1050, the ratio increased from 7.4:1 to 7.48:1, a little but not a little in that competitive category.

I tried to clarify this matter with the CBA and since the organization did not take a position, I decided to write a letter (!) to the Technical Regulations Subcommittee, whose president was the Belgian pilot, engineer and special journalist Paul Frère. In 15 days he answered, but hesitated, as they say. I was disappointed—for a while. The next day another letter arrived from him saying that I was right, explaining that in this case and the cylinder diameter increased to 0.5 mm, exceeding the homologation compression ratio was inevitable and therefore the engine cannot be considered illegal.

In the next 147 races I picked up Paul Frère’s letter, but it didn’t need to be shown…


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